Rep. Dale Denno, D-Cumberland, is seeking a second term as a House District 45 lawmaker, but faces a challenge in November from Republican Tamsin Thomas, a political newcomer from Cumberland.

House District 45 covers Cumberland and a southern section of Gray.

Denno retired in 2013 from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, where he was director of the Office for Family Independence. He announced in August that he has lung cancer, but pledged that the treatments would not hinder his ability to serve in Augusta.

Now retired, Thomas has taught French, and while in California was a secretary at Warner Bros. and a manager at Walt Disney Productions. She moved to Cumberland two years ago.

Both candidates said they would try to reduce divisiveness at the State House.

Thomas, 71, said being a legislator “takes a great deal of diplomacy, and not just reacting in a knee-jerk fashion. Asking people questions, getting their point of view, and looking for the truth and the reality in what they’re saying.”

Denno, 68, said he hears regularly from voters that they want their representatives “to sit down and try to solve problems, and stop the partisan stuff.” He said he hopes to return “to a place where we respect each other’s points of view, (and) we are not ashamed of compromise.”

Denno serves on the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, where opioid-related bills are introduced. After trying an approach favored by the LePage administration, the state’s hospitals are now participating in “a proven model for how to work with opiate addiction,” he said.

Thomas said she finds the opioid abuse issue appalling and needs to learn more about the specifics surrounding the issue. “There needs to be more education; I think we need to stop the drugs more at the border,” she said.

Both oppose a ballot question to create a 3.8 percent payroll tax, as well as a nonwage income tax, to pay for a home care program for seniors and the disabled.

Thomas said she also plans to vote against four bond referendums, saying they are worthwhile but “the question is how do we pay for them?”

Denno supports all four bond questions.

Denno is a publicly funded candidate under the Maine Clean Election Act and has raised more than $14,000 toward his campaign, according to the Maine Ethics Commission. Thomas, a traditionally financed candidate, has raised no funds, according to the commission.

Alex Lear can be contacted at 781-3661 ext. 113 or at:

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